Sunday, 26 September 2010

See I haven't forgotten...

I should probably rename this blog: "Ramblings of a Sick Note", as I seem to start every entry recently with some health related lament. Now I have a head cold. I'm pretty bummed about it as my other half was due down this morning. (First time I'll have seen him in months.) We had a chat about me being ill and germy and his schedule and it made sense for him not to come. It's got cold here too. So it seemed like an ideal time to crack on with quilting this:

Did you think I'd forgotten all about it?

I plan on leaving it in the chair and doing a little every day in front of the TV. I know when I've done to much in one sitting because I seem to jab myself more and more with that lethal little quilting needle!

When I was sorting yesterday I found this charm pack. It's been kicking around here for years now. Rather than a whole range of one fabric line it's a themed pack with the Scottish Landscape as the theme. Watch this space to see what I end up doing with it. I'm hatching a plan already.

I hope you are all having a healthy and warm weekend!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Weekly catch up.

It's been one of those weeks when life got in the way of being too creative. I then had an infection in my mouth and throat which is hopefully on the way out now. Last night it was off to the village trivia quiz where our team (with a member down) came third. I've been really keen to get my messy-potential-crafting area sorted. This is what's been done so far. I started taking down all the books and dusting them in the week and got that finished this morning. What you can't see is all the stuff on the table behind me that needs a home (Opps) But this is a good start right?

It's looking a bit...I don't know, bland? I think it needs some prettying up. Although I think I need to get it all straight first though. I could actually sew here (if there wasn't so many boxes under the bench) as this area was originally put in to house my computer and there is a plug shaped hole in the middle of the bench. I'm just not sure the bench is deep enough to sew properly. I moved the magnet notice board that was propped against the wall and will get my brother to put this up on the wall inside the alcove so only I can see it if I'm sat at the bench. I might get him to put some picture hooks up at the same time.

Onto the fabric goodies that's been turning up here this week. After I bought this fabric from Rainbow fabrics I said, " I'm on a fabric diet!" - which lasted until - hmmmm, yesterday when I ordered something else. I had some of the 'hush puppies' fabric before from this seller and saw she had more and couldn't resist getting some. I want to use some of this to make birthday cards and also some in a quilt I'd like to make for my niece. That's why I got the horsey fabric by Heather Ross too. My niece loves to ride. I wish I could have got some of the ponies fabric too from this range, any I did see was at a silly prices.

I ordered this fabric and thread from Strawberry Fayre to back and bind my Mendocino quilt which I've not touched lately. I also want to use some of this fabric to make some applique/embroidered turtles to embellish the top.

You probably remember me telling you I won my first ever blog giveaway prize from Ryan over at I'm Just A Guy Who Quilts recently? Well Tammy from Karamat Fabrics sent me my prize. I just love Urban Circus!

So that's my week as far as creative things go - I have a tonne of plans in the pipeline. I posted off my scrappy pin cushion for the swap over on flickr so am just excitedly waiting for mine to arrive. I also discovered a close friend is checking in on my blog so any projects that involves makes for her I'm going to have to keep under wraps until after she's seen them ;-)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Beauty out of ugliness

I was going to do another 'Wordless Wednesday' entry. Then I realised that most of what I've been taking pictures of needs some explanation. Add to that I have stuff I've not photographed that I meant to and a stack of pics on my other camera (and that needs a lead to upload to the laptop) and all I have for you is this pic...

This is the view over my back fence. My neighbours dump their garden rubbish here. Not so long ago the neighbour referred to it as the 'communal compost heap' which made me laugh because nobody other than them and their gardener use this 'communal compost heap'. They did scrape it over so it wasn't all we saw out the window - but I'd still rather it wasn't the back of my house not theirs. However, this patch of marigolds must have decided they needed to grow here and for the first time ever it looks pretty and Autumnal.

And just to let you know - I am still working on my craft corner transformation. It kind of stalled yesterday when my brother invited himself to dinner and I had to move all the stuff I'd left out on the dining room table into the area I'd cleared, so we could all sit down to eat. Hopefully before too long I can show you some WIP pictures (that don't look worse than the messy picture at the start).

Maybe when it's done I can do a little celebratory giveaway. Hmmm not sure what - maybe some squares for hexie making? I know quite a lot of you are into that or really need to get into that so you can experience that addiction first hand?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Tea wallet or three

Last night I wanted to make something. I could have worked on quilting my hexie quilt or piecing my Mendocino one - or just start a new quilt altogether. What I really wanted was a project that I could start and finish all in one hit. Last week I had plenty of time to add to my mental 'to do' list and one of the things I came up with was some little tea/condiment travel wallets that would make great little gifts or stocking fillers. This is what I came up with. I'm not entirely happy with the size as it doesn't take the coffee sticks you get in hotels - or the hot chocolate drink sachets that you can get in the supermarket either. It does however work really well for speciality teas. Even better it took less than half an hour to make this first one.

This will be really useful for me as I only drink decaff tea after lunch and most times I go visit someone they don't have any decaff. I also like the speciality teas and fruit infusions and now I can carry them around in style - not in a freezer bag in the bottom of my hand bag! I'm thinking of making a larger one for longer trips. One thing my other half and I always find when we go away on a mini break is most hotels don't provide you with enough milk and beverages to have a drink in the evening and again when you're getting up. So we've got in the habit of taking our own brew kit.

For little presents - particularly small gifts that have to be sent overseas I think these would be great - especially if ready stocked with some nice teas and hot chocolate. My mum says she wants one but doesn't feel the need to take her own beverages out with her. I said well you could use them for other things as well - a mini mending kit or as plasters/first aid supplies wallet maybe?

So after lunch, with half an hour to spare, I cut the fabric and sewed up two more. The cat fabric was a large scrap I had from a scrap bag. This wallet will be stocked with goodies for a cat mad friend in Arizona for Christmas. Not sure about the other one; I just thought the tea cups were so apt!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The good and the bad that's ugly

Normal service is returning around here. I just get wiped out after doing not very much. I got some bulbs planted in tubs in the garden this morning, then I fell asleep in the sunshine - curled up on the garden bench like some sort of tramp. A little while ago I thought I'd best get on with my scrappy pin cushion for round 2 of the swap over on Flickr. My partner *may* like owls so I came up with this...

It's reversible (and a little wonky, but I think that adds to its scrappy charm?) - it's up to my partner which size she wants to stick the pins in.

So this is what my partner will be getting. Although no doubt I'll come up with some other goodies. Hopefully I'll get this to post on Monday. I don't want it to get their too early - but then I'm not sure how long post takes to that part of the world...

So if that's the good you may be wondering what is the bad that's ugly? Well I'm publicly shaming myself about this little glory corner in my dining room. It used to be the space where the computer sat. Then it got full with craft related stuff - Only it's a bit dark to sit in this corner and do close work so it became a dumping ground. I didn't know it had got this bad. It's sort of funny because I keep my desk at work ultra tidy.

I'm showing you this for two reasons: 1) If you have a messed up area in your home you really *should* get around to sorting you can take heart - you are not the only one. 2)If I show you how bad it is maybe over the next few weeks as I'm recovering I can sort this area and make it into a pretty little crafting area. The sort people photograph and show off on their blogs all the while. So brace yourself...

Some potential there? Just do me a big favour? Keep asking me how I'm doing on that declutter/craft area eh? Ok? OK???

Friday, 17 September 2010

Favourite Things Friday: Fabric, Fabric and more Fabric

Yesterday was not a good day. I had plenty of time on my hands to blog but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I just had one big huge helping of feeling sorry for myself and I missed so many things: my other half (who I've not seen since July), real food, being able to make stuff, being able to go out, being able to talk,laugh and smile properly - the list went on and I thought I'd best leave it for a while then come back a bit brighter so you didn't have to hear all my 'woe is me'.

Today, I thought I'd cheer us all up with another of my favourite things - fabric. I know it's a big fave for a lot of you too. ;-) I've had a tonne of fabric related mail this week and there was one bundle that came last week that I forgot to take any pictures of. Those of you on a fabric diet may want to look away now, otherwise you may well find yourself rushing to the nearest LQS or Etsy to buy some tissue wrapped gorgeousness for yourself.

First up from etsy seller fabric palooza (I have no idea what a palooza is? Is it like a palace - it sounds like it should be?) The Amy Butler fat quarter was a shop special and worked out at just 69p! Yes - sixty-nine English pennies! The other designs are by Valori Wells and of course the lovely Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt. It was Corinnea that made me want some Hope Valley when she sent me some scraps for my Hexie quilt.

This gorgeousness is from Spoonflower. I've not ordered much from Spoonflower before because - well it's not the cheapest way to get yourself a fat quarter of fabric is it? Having said that I love the idea of designing your own fabric and getting it printed. Spoonflower were doing a free swatch day again and I ordered the stamp fabric. I should point out first time I ordered the swatch I paid because even though I thought we were in the right day EST time, I'd missed the bit about start being 'noon'. The nice people at Spoonflower said - don't worry we'll refund you and you can come back at the right time and order it for free. Easy. So while I was back getting that (At the right time) I also picked up some of Texas Freckles (aka Melanie)Cheater print. Which reminds me of Flea market fancy type prints and would be ideal for some more 1" hexies...

Next up is the fabric part of my order to UK quilting suppliersCotton Patch (I also got to 45 x 60" packs of Warm and Natural and a quilting ruler which is way to big for my cutting mat - I'll blog about my mathematical klutziness another time...) The white fabric is American Muslin for lining the inside of some cushion covers I've a mind to make. Maybe also for lining some stockings? The snowman fabric is by Basic Grey and much cuter in person. Along side it is some Robin fabric that I can't remember who designed and some Amy Butler. (The pins will be going of to my partner in the scrappy pin chushion swap over on Flickr.)

Last, But by no means least, is my SewFreshFabrics order - Some Kona Cotton - more Hope Valley and the lovely Urban Circus range - this is the first time I've ever owned an entire fabric range. Mind the range is only 4 designs in two colourways so it wasn't exactly hard to get the entire range. I think it's begging for a baby quilt and maybe some cushions. I have a giraffe and elephant thing. Just saying - in case you wondered.

So what fabric have you been buying lately? And perhaps more importantly - what do you plan doing with it?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Probably the worse half hour of my entire life...

Thanks to everyone who has been passing on their kind wishes regarding the dental surgery which went ahead yesterday. Up until the very last minute I kept hoping they'd say it wasn't required. (Well they do say Denial is not just a river in Egypt.)

I'm going to spare you the gory details (I kept my eyes shut for most of it anyway!)I have to say that whilst it was more uncomfortable than painful and the surgeon and nurse were fantastic; it's officially the worse half hour of my entire life.

I now look like I should be on one of those documentaries about when Botox goes Bad. (Again I won't scare you with pictures...)

Prior to surgery I went on a little online fabric retail therapy. I think it started way back before my holiday with that Mendocino stash building. I'd sort of said by last weekend I'd only buy fabric and supplies I needed for projects in hand. Then I noticed that Fabric Rehab had got their emergency stash busting budget bundles back in stock and some really nice linen fabric that I thought would be great for some cushion backs.

I only ordered the goodies at the weekend and this is what arrived today!

Duck egg and gooseberry linen...

These two pics are of 3 of the stash busting packs taken from either end of my ironing board. Such a yummy selection of scraps and at only £2 per bundle which yields about a fat quarter (they say, I say more).

You can see why they sell out so quickly!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday Rambles....

I requested my mums roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for my lunch today. I ate it all followed by some Victoria plums I got this morning while I was out looking for bulb fibre. I felt like the condemned man eating his last supper. I suspect after tomorrows surgery I won't be in a position to eat much that requires chewing :-(

But enough of that because the weekend so far as been about so much more! Here are some pictures from my garden.

There is still a bit of colour. It really feels like Autumn is on it's way. I don't mind Autumn. I like how the landscape changes colour as the trees green leaves turn every shade of gold, orange and red you can imagine. I like that I can layer clothes; and getting all cosy on the sofa with a book or a project seems *right*. Catch me in a few months when Winter is here and it's grey and wet all day; then I'll probably be counting down the days til it's summer again. I've been busy planting bulbs in the garden and some winter bedding plants. I will have some colour too look forward to on those long miserable days of winter. I love it when the first bulbs start to burst into flower as it means that spring is fast on the heels of winter.

I have finished one of the pin cushions I had in mind for the Scrappy Pin Cushion Swap over on flickr. I have another little idea I want to try out as well. I hope my partner likes it.

I couldn't resist adding the little ladybird bead by the felt and button flower.

Hexies are fast becoming my signature!

I have made over half of the disappearing nine patch blocks required for my Mendocino quilt top. They are soooo easy but look so complicated! I just need to order the backing and binding fabric which I'm also hoping to use to make some cute little appliqued turtles. This quilt has some quite Autumnal colours going on, however it will forever remind me of the sun and days spent on the beach.

Well whatever you're doing this weekend I hope you're enjoying it!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Not looking forward to Monday...

I should warn you up front that if you are one of those people that *hates* going to the dentist then this post may make you squirm.

Monday I am scheduled to have dental surgery. To get to this stage I've had a long and at times excrutiatingly painful journey that's involved - more antibiotics in a few weeks than I've had in my entire life, a root canal that when horribly wrong and had to be immediately undone and a tonne of visits to the dentist. I have never had dental surgery before. I've never had any kind of surgery before. I am not looking forward to Monday. I'm having the procedure at the dentists under LA. I will be awake for it all. The dentist says it's a breeze and the surgeon is really good. But then it's not her gum they're cutting open, or her jaw they're drilling through - she can have the cyst they are removing if she really wants it ;-)

So if I am a little quiet next week you will know why.

After I have the Mendocino quilt sorted I plan on starting another quilt as one of my Mum's Christmas presents. I'm not going for a fancy design. I need something quick and easy that I can get finished without any chance of her seeing me work on it. This will probably mean I will try machine quilting (I have had a really really bad experience with this so I need to practice, practice, practice). I haven't quite decided on the fabrics, but I'm thinking maybe something bird themed because my mum would love that. I'm also thinking she'd like Hope Valley too. I asked Mum what her favourite bird was and the first one she came up with was Long Tailed Tit. They visit our bird feeder and are pretty darn cute. Earlier in the year we had one that would come and tap on the window at us. She called him Tommy Tapper.

I'm thinking maybe 5" squares. I have a little stash of birdie fabrics like Park Slope and think it might be fun to mix up all different kinds of birdie fabrics together, using some florals and abstracts I may have from other ranges, then applique a long tailed tit or two tapping on the quilt. Of course if I had more time and skill I may have gone for diamonds to match the window, but I think I need to keep this project as simple as possible (well if I want to give it her this Christmas!)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Midweek catch up: Strawberry Fayre, Hexie Quilt, Scrappy Pincushion Swap and more!

Today my new season samples from Strawberry Fayre arrived. As a regular customer I get sent new samples every September. If you are in the UK and haven't checked out Strawberry Fayre you may well want to. Currently they are keeping their 2009/10 prices until the end of the year. They sell by the fat or skinny quarter and prices are £9.20 per metre for USA prints and £7.00 metre for USA plains. Whilst the prints are more traditional and probably unrecognisable by design, to all but the most fanatical fabric purchaser, they do offer a large range and you might find something to add to your stash. They do a huge range of plain fabric in every shade and value under the sun. The sample packs give you roughly an inch of all the fabrics they carry so you can easily see if they match existing fabrics in your stash or whether that plain you need is going to be just the right shade to co-ordinate with the project you're working on.

Whenever I see UK bloggers talk about fabric suppliers by mail I never see Strawberry Fayre mentioned. When I discovered them back in the early 1990's there was very little choice of quilt fabric suppliers by mail or Internet and I could get everything I needed from them as they do a range of suppliers for quilters - everything from threads to rotary blades and batting.

The first quilt I made from start to finish is made entirely with charm packs and fabrics I purchased from Strawberry Fayre(many attempts at quilts fell by the wayside - either because something went wrong, I got bored, or in some cases I started without thinking about how much fabric was needed and so ran out -!) It's fair to say this quilt is not to my taste now - it was made back in the 1990's. However, it's a practical cover up on nippy days and my niece used to play on it as a baby when she came to visit.

I know some of you are probably only sticking with this blog to find out what's happening with that hexie quilt I started a few months ago. Well I started quilting it before I went on holiday; it's sort of stalled while life has got in the way. Here's a not so good picture of my progress so far. You can sort of pick out my dodgy hand quilting design (the design is cool - it's my stitching that's dodgy.)

I have joined round 2 of The scrappy pin cushion swap over on Flickr and am working on two different designs I hope my partner will like. If they both work I'll send them both. That will save me the hassle of trying to pick the one she likes best (only to then find she secretly wishes I'd sent the other one instead.)

This will end up long and thin with some half inch hexies sewn on the reverse side. I've started sewing the hexies already.

I'm going to do a sort of log cabin with the owl on one side in the centre. Then either a hexie design on the reverse or maybe something completely different.

Yesterday was my brother's birthday. Only it felt more like it was mine when I found out I'd won my first ever prize in a blog giveaway. Ryan Walsh of I'm Just A Guy Who Quilts had a give away with lots of runner up prizes and I won a fat quarter bundle of Urban Circus donated by Karamat Fabrics I was doing a happy dance because I love this range of fabrics (so much so I had to go and buy some last week from another Etsy supplier. This sort of felt like serendipity in action because when I entered the give away I didn't know this was one of the prizes and I just know I can put this fabric to good use!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Weekend Wonders

How was your weekend and what have you been up to? I got home from work on Friday to find my final Mendocino order had arrived - 10 Fat quarters. I am looking forward to cutting into this to continue my disappearing nine patch blocks. I'm also looking forward to having some left over to mix in with other projects. I will not buy any more Mendocino, I will not buy any more Mendocino...if I keep saying that it must be true eh?

Friday night I whipped up this for my other half. When he came to my brothers 25th Wedding Anniversary Party back in July he bought his magic tricks with him but had nothing suitable to put them in. I managed to find a gift bag but thought it would be fun to have a bag that did double duty for magic for any occasion. When he's on exercise he can use the camo side and when he's at mess do's he can use the sparkly side. You can't really tell from the photos but the black side has sort of gold holographic dots printed on it. I hope he likes it anyway.

Saturday I went to visit a friend in her new home. She's got the small ground floor flat in a larger property in the middle of the woods in the Chilterns. We had a walk in her back garden which looks like this...

It's a pretty idyllic place to live for someone who likes wildlife and being away from it all so I hope she'll be very happy there. I've got a project in mind for her - more details once I've gained some measurements and got underway. We had lunch at a pub nearby and enjoyed this view.

In the evening I was off to another silver wedding anniversary party. I was the 'official photographer'. I'm not a professional photographer so I hope their expectations weren't too high and they like the pictures I did take. This is a fun one of me and my big brother.

My other half was going to the party, however, yesterday morning he hurt his back and there was no way he could make it down to the party. Of course now I have no idea when I'll see him as his back may take some time to heal and he's got a lot on with work. :-(

Sunday I'm chilling and catching up on chores. I just found out who my partner is in the scrappy pincushion swap over on Flickr. This is the first time I've taken part in a swap for finished items and I'm quite excited. I've had fun *stalking* my partner to see the type of things they like. I am full of ideas and can't wait to get started so may start sketching and selecting some fabric scraps later.
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